Data storage doesn't tend to elicit wows or water-cooler conversations, but that's about to change: Hitachi's new Deskstar 7K1000, the first hard drive to reach one terabyte, is here--and it's worth the hype .
Based on the PC World Test Center's evaluation, this gonzo-size drive is a keeper, scoring near the top on our performance tests. But be prepared to pay a premium for this drive's high performance and high capacity.
One terabyte has long been considered a watermark capacity for hard drives, and rightly so: Suddenly, it's possible to pack 330,000 high-resolution digital photos (at 3MB a pop) or about 150 high-definition movies (encoded at 9 megabytes per second using MPEG-4) onto a single drive.
Previously, if you wanted to achieve such colossal capacity, you'd have to harness multiple 250GB drives together with disk spanning, or pair two 500GB drives configured using either disk spanning or striping (RAID 0).
How it scored in our tests
Hitachi achieves its massive capacity by packing 250GB onto each of the drive's five platters; that's up from 200GB per platter on Hitachi's 500GB model. The Deskstar 7K1000 is Hitachi's first 3.5-inch drive to use perpendicular magnetic recording to record data (Hitachi, however, has previously used perpendicular technology in its mobile hard drive line).
The Deskstar 7K1000 was a formidable performer across our test suite: It earned a top score of Superior on our tests. The drive was the fastest on our file search test; it required just 151 seconds to search for a text string in the 11.7GB of content we placed on the drive (besting the its smaller-capacity sibling, the Deskstar 7K400 , by 7 seconds). The new Deskstar tied for top honors on our ACDSee test, taking 513 seconds to do perform our scripted tasks of searching and converting files from one format (say, .jpg) to another (say, .gif); and it sailed through our WinZip test, shaving 2 seconds off the result of the previous top WinZip performer, the Samsung SpinPoint T Series HD501LJ .
The drive's performance was slightly less impressive on two other tests: copying files and folders, and copying very large files. Here, it took 144 seconds to write 3.06GB of files and folders (25 seconds behind our top performer on this, the SpinPoint), and 117 seconds to write a single large 3.06GB zip archive (27 seconds behind the Samsung SpinPoint).
The Deskstar 7K1000 has to be considered very expensive among the field of internal hard drives that we've tested. On a cost-per-gigabyte basis, the difference between the Deskstar 7K1000 and our least expensive drive, the US$150 Samsung SpinPoint T Series HD501LJ, doesn't seem so large: The difference is just 10 cents per GB (40 cents per GB for the Hitachi versus 30 cents for the Samsung). But multiply that difference across 1000 gigabytes, and suddenly the $399 price feels a smidge high.
I don't mind paying a bit, more, though. The deep-bucket capacity and solid performance of the Deskstar--not to mention the limitless possibilities of what I can do with a one-terabyte hard drive more than justifies the premium price tag.